Tobin, Jacqueline 1950-
Tobin, Jacqueline 1950-
Born 1950; married; husband's name Stewart; children: Alex, Jasmine. Education: University of Nebraska—Lincoln, M.Ed.
University of Denver, Denver, CO, adjunct faculty teaching writing and research.
(With Pamela Metz) The Tao of Women, Humanics (Atlanta, GA), 1995.
Jacqueline Tobin is a writer, educator, collector, and historian. She is particularly interested in quilts as art and pieces of history, as well as a method of telling a story. She has spent years researching the ways in which nineteenth-century African Americans pieced together the stories of their lives using scraps of fabric, designing quilts that contained their family histories. These people broadened the use of these techniques by sewing secret codes into the quilts, as well as passing along directions for the Underground Railroad that would enable escaped slaves to make their way safely to the North and freedom. Historically, there is much debate as to the meaning of certain quilt patterns and whether they were actually a part of this "Quilt Code," or merely another piece of family history passed down through the generations. In her Hidden in Plain View: The Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, written with Raymond G. Dobard, Tobin discusses the oral tradition behind this history and the fact that the delicacy of quilt work means a lack of evidence to support theories. While the book primarily consists of conjecture, Zoe Ingalls remarked in the Chronicle of Higher Education: "No one knows if their explanations are correct, and there may never be conclusive proof. But what they've come up with makes for fascinating reading."
Tobin's research sparked further interest in the process of the Underground Railroad and the people who were involved in that network. She went on to write From Midnight to Dawn: The Last Tracks of the Underground Railroad, with Hettie Jones. The work looks at the northernmost settlement in what is now Ontario that resulted from the migrations on the Underground Railroad. She includes portraits of a number of Americans who settled either temporarily or permanently north of the U.S. border, including William Parker, Henry Bibb, and Harriet Tubman. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the book "accessible and fluidly written." Michael Taylor, writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, commented: "The enthusiasm that Tobin and Jones have for this subject really comes through in their writing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Visions, February 1, 2000, "The Fabric of Our Heritage," review of Hidden in Plain View: The Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, p. 16.
Booklist, March 1, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of From Midnight to Dawn: The Last Tracks of the Underground Railroad, p. 58.
Chronicle of Higher Education, February 18, 2000, Zoe Ingalls, "Two Scholars Show How Quilts Offered More Than Warmth on the Underground Railroad," review of Hidden in Plain View, p. 2.
Emerge, February 1, 1999, Victoria Valentine, review of Hidden in Plain View, p. 106.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2006, review of From Midnight to Dawn, p. 1062.
Library Journal, February 15, 1999, Jenny Presnell, review of Hidden in Plain View, p. 167.
New York Times, February 18, 1999, Phil Patton, "Public Eye: How Slaves Read between the Threads."
Newsweek, January 25, 1999, "How Runaway Slaves Found the Path to Freedom," review of Hidden in Plain View, p. 6.
Publishers Weekly, December 13, 1999, "Anchor," review of Hidden in Plain View, p. 44; November 6, 2006, review of From Midnight to Dawn, p. 49.
Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 15, 2007, Michael Taylor, review of From Midnight to Dawn.
Time for Kids, February 5, 1999, "Unraveling a Secret Code: Slaves Stitched Messages into Quilts," review of Hidden in Plain View, p. 6.
Washington Post, February 18, 1999, Fern Robinson, "Underground Railroad Signals," p. 4.